For writers (as well)

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

 

Steve Jobs

Audiobooks all summer long

Download free audiobooks all summer long via SYNC

4

Encourage summer listening at your library! SYNC is a free summer audiobook program for teens 13+ (and adult listeners, too!). From April 27 through August 16, 2017, SYNC will give away two complete audiobook downloads each week, including four outstanding Listening Library titles! Visit www.audiobooksync.com each week for two new audio offerings. Once downloaded, these audios are yours to keep—but hurry, each title is available for one week only!

We Are Completely Beside Ourselves

In Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are Completely Beside Ourselves, the narrator begins in media res.

Rosemary is a well-educated, unreliable narrator. She tells readers she is in mourning because her sister disappeared seventeen years ago and her brother disappeared ten years ago.

In no way is We Are Completely Beside Ourselves a typical missing person story. There’s a lot more at play. Rosemary’s brother is a domestic terrorist and Rosemary’s sister is a chimpanzee for starters. Her father is a psychologist who is keen on treating his children like the psychological subjects he is studying.

Tragic and compelling, this novel explores many tantalizing subjects such as the fallibility of memory, the notion of humanity, and the debilitating effect of family secrets.

For another book about a family’s misadventures in animal experimentation, try We Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge.  

The Small Hand by Susan Hill

The Small Hand by Susan Hill

On his way back from a client on the coast, Andrew Snow, a rare book dealer, cuts through the Downs and has an odd experience. After leaving the main road, he gets lost and finds himself inexplicably stopping at a dilapidated mansion. On The White House grounds, he feels the presence of a small hand gripping his own but yet there’s no visible child. Is this a ghost or is he going mad like his brother, Hugo? Why do the gardens and pool fascinate him? Why does it all seem so achingly familiar?

Susan Hill (The Woman in Black) does a masterful job of creating tension and suspense in the marvelous ghost story. Hill is particularly good and creating psychological portraits that ring true. Infused with the supernatural, this novelette also revels how skillfully we deceive ourselves as adults. Grown-ups falsely believe their past is past–that their childhood fears and offenses are long buried. 

Black Rabbit Hall

Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase.

When a couple chooses an ancient mansion, Pencraw Hall (aka Black Rabbit Hall) as their wedding venue, strange things come to light. Neither knows the history of the house–the Altons’ story–yet Lorna remembers going to the house once while they were on holiday. For an unexplained reason, Lorna is drawn back to this house.
In a flashback, readers learn about another family that once lived in Black Rabbit Hall: a wild red-head American lady, her husband, and their children, Amber, Toby, Barney and Kitty. Black Rabbit Hall is a perfect haven for this troop, until a tragic accident changes everything.
After his mother’s death, Toby becomes cool and distant. He becomes even more troubled when his father begins dating Caroline, an old flame. Amber feels torn between her loyalty towards her twin and her interest in Caroline’s son, Lucian.
The children of the former Mrs. Alton clash with the new Mrs. Alton, especially since she insists on changing everything at Black Rabbit Hall. She despises the family traditions and thwarts them at every turn. She even takes down a beloved portrait of the former Mrs. Alton.
Decades later she offers her crumbling mansion to Lorna as a wedding venue. But why? If you love books about family secrets, unforgettable characters, and large estates in England, you’ll love this book.

Night Strangers

Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian


All Chip Linton wants when he moves to Bethel, New Hampshire is a little peace and quiet for his family. He has already survived the unthinkable, a plane crash. Since he was the pilot, he blames himself for not being able to pull off a “Miracle on the Hudson” type maneuver.

Tragically, Linton is not able to pull off the same type of miracle and 39 of the flight’s passengers die. In therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, Chip vows never to fly again.

Emily, Chip’s wife, decides the family needs to move away from Philadelphia but she has a difficult time adjusting to the Victorian house. She’s grateful for the anonymity; she was tired of fielding questions about the crash.

On the other hand, she finds the house’s history creepy. The former inhabitant’s twelve-year-old son is rumored to have killed himself in the house. The house’s internal structure is strange: each of the three floors is a little narrower than the preceding one, the wallpaper is hideous, and the basement has a bolted door that seemingly leads nowhere.

In addition, why are there so many greenhouses in Bethel? Every house, including the one Chip and Emily have just bought, seem to have one. Why does everyone in the town seem overly interested in the Linton twins.
Bohjalian’s narrative most freely back and forth among all the characters but it is actually the twins’ impressions which stand out. Despite their father’s fragility and nightmares, the twins are face even greater dangers.

This is marvelous, well-researched novel by one of America’s best writers. Chris Bohjalian writes that he spoke to countless pilots to get the details right.

The epilogue, however, made me sad. While I didn’t expect Chip to become an all-American hero  that Sully Sullenberger was, I thought he could at least save his family from the herbalists. The ending is disturbing, albeit thought-provoking.

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan

Short Nights: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis by Edward Curtis.

Even though this is non-fiction, because of Curtis’ superb writing, it reads like an impossible-to-put-down novel.

Almost immediately readers are drawn into Curtis’ world and are fascinated by the odds of a subsistence farmer rising to ranks of super celebrity: all due to Curtis’ skill with a camera and business acumen.

After a fall out with his younger brother, Curtis befriends Bird Grinell and launches the “big idea.” His idea is to record the vanishing Native American tribes on film and wax recorder, an early recording device.

Curtis gained the trust of Native Americans and given some access to their world. He was not permitted to participate or photograph the Sundance or snake ceremonies (until late in life).
Nonetheless, Curtis was well-liked and given a variety of Indian names and nicknames, including “The Man Who Sleeps on His Breath” because he slept on an air mattress.

Egan offers a fascinating portrait of an ambitious, energetic man who tried to improve perceptions of Native Americans with his camera.

A digital library of Curtis’ life’s work, The North American Indian, may be found at, http://curtis.library.northwestern.edu/